Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Tester leak - Some thoughts on Darkfall

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My first impression was that the world graphics are decent enough. The ground, trees, paths, water.. all designed and placed well.
I ran for great distances to explore the terrain and found that it changed like it should, and felt much like a real world and not fake like some games.

I could climb any hill for example, and generally didn't feel boxed in at all. So this part of the game was impressive to me. The environmental sounds were also good enough as well.

The sunrise was simply stunning, gorgeous. Clouds and night sky looked good as well. I did not notice any weather like raining, but, it may be either very rare or not turned on yet.

Generally it did feel pretty empty though. There are camps of monsters to be found here and there. There are also animations of small birds in the distance.. So this empty feeling may have just been from so few players being around.

The Character models looked ok from the close in 3rd person weapon drawn perspective. Not great, but ok for a PvP game. They looked a bit better while looking at another person on the screen, or while viewing your character while resting. Armor looks good as well. Aflar's glowing eyes look excellent.

The buildings and cities look well designed and are functional. I could not find any doors to open, but it felt natural enough with archways and open doorways. NPCs are functional but sparse.

I expected the interface to be horrible, but found it was very simple and easy to understand. It is like a nicer UO interface that could use a bunch of work, it is very crude I admit, but it is functional.

The biggest problem is that there are lots of things they say are not turned on yet. I have no idea if they just have to turn these things on or if they have to create them still, but I hope it is as they say.

As for bugs, there are a few, but less than I normally see in betas. The stability is pretty much perfect or better than most released MMORPGs.
At least with the small amount of players on now. This is the most shocking thing for me. I expected Darkfall.exe crashes, yet the game just doesn't crash. I could also alt-tab just fine, and generally it just works really well.

Melee combat feels like you are just trading blows. Back and forth. What can you say? They need to work on it and tweak it some.
Jumping does not really matter much with melee combat, it might with avoiding AOE spells aimed at the ground though, in theory. Sprinting is very cool because you can sprint for a very long time. You also skill up with it.

You can sprint and fight at the same time as well.. If you run out of stamina you are doomed.. Ranged combat is amazing on the other hand. Just great as it is. It is however very difficult to change weapons rapidly and switch between modes, unless I am missing something, which is possible.

As for the feel of the world, it feels very dangerous, it feels more like a world or a sim than just a game. There is also a sense of equality right away with other players.

Without levels it does feel like you matter from the start. While the skills still give a variety of things to work on and improve. So I think it can be a game for casual or hardcore players, provided they are seeking the most harsh environment possible while playing. The main point is that you don't have to grind for months to make a difference, but everything is going to be deadly hard right away, and stay that way. This part of the game just feels right to me.

As for the difficulty in general, it is simply very hard. The monsters alone are enough of a challenge, to say the least. They group, run away, attack you at extreme distances, you name it. I think they might need some easier mobs for players to start with, but with enough tactics you can kill these initial monsters.

Finally, it is hard to say how the game will be at release or to give a complete review with so many things turned off or not finished, but Darkfall certainly has a great amount of potential for PvPers seeking a harsh and deadly world. The game clearly needs work and some tweaks, but it does offer what they promised and what many of us have been waiting for. Darkfall is a dark world of harsh consequences. There is no denying that.
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